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PlaygroundEquipment Blog
Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Thursday is National Toothache Day...Let's try not to celebrate it!

Photo by BRENDA MICHELLE (Flickr)
Thursday (February 9) is National Toothache Day. While this is not exactly a day to be celebrated (I do not want a toothache at any time), it does serve as a reminder for how important dental health is in both children and adults.

The origins of National Toothache Day remain shrouded in mystery according to but the guess is it was a dentist who started it, and he or she probably had good reason to. According to the World Health Organization Oral Health Fact-sheet, 60 to 90 percent of children and 100 percent of adults have dental cavities. However, in the United States only 52.4 percent of adults in the United States reported visiting a dentist every six months in 2014, 15.4 percent reported visiting once every year and another 11 percent reported visiting once every two to three years. That means 21.2 percent of adults had not visited a dentist in at least three years, according to the American Dental Association Patient Statistics.

More than that plan on continuing that trend as well, as 22.9 percent of adults indicated they are either unsure or definitely do not plan to visit a dentist in the next 12 months. The top reasons for not going include cost (which 40.7 percent of people said), not needing dental care (at least, that is what they think, at 32.7 percent), and not having time to get to the dentist (which 14.7 percent of people said) according to numbers from the ADA.

Children are getting slightly better treatment, as 83 percent of children in the United States aged 2-17 had at least one dental visit in the past year. However, 17.5 percent of children aged 5-19 years have untreated tooth decay 27.4 adults had untreated tooth decay.

Untreated tooth decay can lead to a number of problems. A personal friend recently had all of his teeth surgically removed. He had not been to a dentist for three years and his mouth was too far gone to save. He is getting dentures, but the process will not be cheap. Without insurance the costs of the procedure would have exceeded $10,000.

Even though that is an extreme situation, it does prove the idiom in this case that "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure". I have personally skipped dental appointments before and it only leads to more pain and cost than I would have otherwise incurred had I just continued regular dental appointments. Keep in mind I do brush my teeth regularly.

The chart in the Action for Dental Health: Bringing Disease Prevention into Communities from the ADA shows the cost of preventive measures versus the cost of more extreme options when prevention is taken. It is obvious that although prevention may cost money, foregoing it can cost more.

The lesson learned is to take the time to see a dentist, keep your teeth taken care of, and make regular appointments. Yes, it takes time, and it can take money, but the consequences can be worse. Try not to neglect home care including brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing once a day as recommended by the ADA. A clean dental bill of health is possible, but not if you do not see your dental provider. If you do not have a dentist, ask your insurance provider or use the Mouth Healthy directory to find an ADA member dentist near you.

Learn about the author: Scott Roberts
Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Cyberbullying: A Real Problem and How-To Minimize a Child's Risk

Photo by J_O_I_D (Flickr)
Playground bullying is still a problem in most schools and areas today, though there have been plenty of efforts to stop it, like this video ( However, a new study shows parents are more concerned about cyber-bullying than traditional playground bullying, and their concern is based in some fact.

Just as a refresher, cyber-bullying is loosely defined as any bullying that happens online. It can take many forms including insulting text or instant messages, identity theft and assumption and posting disparaging comments and pictures on people’s social media profiles.

In a new study by cyber-security firm Symantec (Children are 'more likely to be bullied online than in the playground', parents claim) nearly half of parents, or 48 percent, said they believed their children were more likely to be bullied online than on the playground. Not only does this reflect the changing times that we live in, the fact that I’m writing about this area to you on an online blog should be one indication, but this is a concern that should and is being addressed.

More than 75 percent of parents in the survey said they thought children were more exposed to online bullying than they were five years ago. Some of the numbers back that up. More than half of adolescents and teens have been bullied online and about the same number have engaged in cyber-bullying.

Over 25 percent of adolescents and teens have been bullied repeatedly through their cell phones or on the internet as well. Statistics from the Cyberbullying research center show that the last three years have seen the highest rates of cyber-bullying, though the rate has gone down from its high in 2014.

However the study also said despite these concerns more than a quarter of parents allow internet access to their children before 6 years old. Though at the same time 70 percent said technology should be used to monitor their children’s online experience.

There are simple things parents can do minimize their child’s risk of online bullying. Those include knowing your child’s online habits and not introducing them to the online world too early. It also means checking their online communications at times, either yourself or through a friend, and maintain open lines of verbal and in person communication between yourself and your children. Encourage your children to tell you if they think they or someone they know are being cyber-bullied and tell them you will not take their technology away if you think they are.

The delicate balance you need to reach with your children is to know what they are doing online while still respecting their privacy. If you try to pry too much, your children will not trust you and think you are trying to creep in on all parts of their lives. Always let them know you respect their communication and value their judgment, and are just trying to make sure they are safe. As an adult you have more power to do something about it if bullying happens than they do, and that is one reason parents need to be aware.

Cyber-bullying will probably be a problem as long as there is an internet, but taking simple steps can help prevent it from happening to your child or stopping it cold once it starts. Check out more cyber-bullying and traditional bullying resources at

Learn about the author: Scott Roberts
Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Five Steps to Making Recess Fun for Everyone

Photo by will kay (Flickr)
When I was in elementary school, I thought recess was unplanned spontaneity. We went out and played on the swings, jungle gym, bars and slides. Some of us played kickball or baseball or whatever was in season and some came up with their own games and scenarios out of their own imagination. I really didn’t think there was a plan to anything, just let the kids play and if they get into a fight stop it before it gets too serious and someone gets hurt.

But I’ve found out recently through my time as an education reporter and my work here for that like most things, recess takes a certain amount of planning and commitment to pull off well. From planning who those supervisors of recess will be to giving children plenty of options I’ve found there’s more than meets the eye to an unstructured time of play, and the CDC and Shape America, the Society of Health and Physical Educators, agree. They recently released their Strategies for Recess in Schools report.

Children are supposed to get 60 minutes of play a day according to the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans and recess is an important part of that. The report recommends at least 20 minutes of recess a day, but I remember mine was closer to 45. It goes on to list five general steps for making recess a success in any learning environment and gives 19 specific ways to implement them.

The first is to make leadership decisions. This basically boils down to deciding what kind of recess you want, putting policies in writing and training people to meet those policies. This makes sense because without a vision, anything can go off the rails, even an unstructured time of play.

The second is communicate and force behavioral and safety expectations. In other words, make sure everyone knows your vision and what it takes to keep kids safe while playing and train your employees and supervisors accordingly.

The third is create an environment supportive of physical activity. When your students get to recess, make sure they have something to occupy their mind and body so they have the most productive recess possible. This includes both indoor and outdoor recess. I know when we had indoor recess in school, there was not a lot of physical activity involved, and this report offers some suggestions to remedy that.
The fourth is to engage the school community to support recess. This includes establishing roles and responsibilities and getting children involved in planning recess. This is an interesting concept and one I wish I had when I was in school. Asking children their ideas and then listening is a great way to make sure recess is a time everyone enjoys.

The last strategy the report mentions is gathering information on recess. This means following physical activity and tracking student performance because of that. Everyone needs proof that something is working, and recess is no different. If it isn’t working, it needs to be changed, right?

Those are the strategies the CDC and Shape America recommends, and the report is worth a read. It goes into much more detail than I have room to hear and will only take about 15 minutes. However, it offers some great suggestions for bringing some order to the chaos and keeping recess fun and rewarding for everyone.

Learn about the author: Scott Roberts
Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Play Therapy Builds A Better World For Kids

Play time typically evokes an image of happy and carefree kids, going about in a play area, basking in the innocent pleasures of childhood, and filling stressed-out adults with nostalgia. While playing is indeed an enjoyable activity, the benefits of play extend as play therapy for children who have been under fire.

A slew of statistics this and last year shows how different instances of hardship permeate the idealized untroubled world of children — an annual average of 1.5 million children having to endure the divorce in their family, 54% or more than half of children living with remarried parents, single parents, or no parent at all, one in four children living in poverty and distressed by instability at home (or homes because of constant moving). Aside from facing changes at home, children can also face problems like rejection and bullying in school, crimes and abuse, and a lot more.

These can strike anytime during their critical formative years and can have negative long-term implications to young minds that have yet to fully take hold of reality. While it is impossible to shield children from every hard fact of life, parents, along with child advocates in the community, can help children cope.

One of the things that concerned adults can use is play therapy for children, which comes in many forms including active play in playgrounds. Play therapy activities serve as a tool for kids so they can bounce back better as they build resilience growing up in the real world.

Through play therapy, children learn new skills that they can apply to cope with any challenge.
Photo courtesy of dadblunders via Flickr, Creative Commons

According to the American Psychology Association (APA), “Building resilience — the ability to adapt well to adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or even significant sources of stress — can help our children manage stress and feelings of anxiety and uncertainty. This makes instilling resilience in your children a better option than potentially overprotecting and not letting kids experience life at all.”

Multi-Sensory Playgrounds: Early Childhood Development Hubs

Kids today are playing less compared to their parents when they were still children. According to a research report, 70 percent of mothers said they played outside every day when they were girls, while only 31 percent said their children did the same. 56 percent said they played outside for three or more hours, while only 22 percent said this about their children. How then do multi-sensory playgrounds fit in the picture?

Parents are aware of the importance of outside play time on the well-being of their children but due to work and other distractions, they are not able to give their kids the amount of play time that they need. Because of this, there are children who develop sensory disabilities, such as sensory processing disorder and autism spectrum disorder.

These are alarming facts that parents should do something about immediately. Giving your child more time to play is not enough. You should also strive to provide your kid a stimulating multi-sensory environment for play time that will help in his physical, cognitive, and social development. Multi-sensory play areas are hubs that help children develop a better grasp of a holistic early childhood development.

Be a good parent and let him play outside. Photo from

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Why Active Play is Necessary in Making Kids Healthier

It’s a disturbing trend – more and more kids prefer to stay indoors to play video games or spend an unhealthy amount of time on the Internet. Those days when children would gladly do anything just to go outside for active play are almost gone.

Too much game time can be unhealthy. Melanie Holtzman via Flickr, Creative Commons

While it can be said that video games and the Internet can contribute to the mental development of your child, it can also take its toll on his/her physical and social health in the long run. Kids who stay inside the house most of the time tend to develop shyness problems and other issues when dealing with other children.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Healthy Play Fitness Hacks After The Hefty Christmas Dinner

The holiday season brings no excuse to eating sweets and pastries. It is a very favorable time for kids to load up on sugar and carbs. But that doesn’t mean you’ll give them free pass to eat their way to obesity, right? That’s where we come in. We are no weight loss magicians but we can help your kids acquire the stamina of an athlete and grow physically fit the playground way.

Photo from via Lorna Benitez, Pinterest
You don’t have to restrict them from indulging but you can help them by providing better options to keep their sugar levels at bay and their health in perfect condition.

As we all know, Christmas day is just around the corner. Just a few more days left until the big holiday feast. Have you planned out the menu for the family dinner already? If we’re not mistaken, you’re pretty much looking into preparing scrumptious meals like these: heavenly bowl of pumpkin soup, sauteed vegetables with butter and cheese, garlic mashed potatoes with sour cream, oven roasted chicken with lemon and herbs, baby back ribs smothered in sweet n’ spicy barbeque sauce, freshly baked dinner rolls and a good bottle of wine. And if you’re the super mom, you’ll also have a decadent chocolate cake for the kids.